Legend

186 posts
Speaking to the choir

A friend found the following chart about the "carbon cycle", and sent me an exasperated note, having given up on figuring it out. The chart came from a report, and was reprinted in Ars Technica (link). The problem with the chart is that the designer is speaking to the choir. One must know a lot about the carbon cycle already to make sense of everything that's going on. We see...

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Illustrating coronavirus waves with moving images

The New York Times put out a master class in visualizing space and time data recently, in a visualization of five waves of Covid-19 that have torched the U.S. thus far (link). The project displays one dataset using three designs, which provides an opportunity to compare and contrast them. *** The first design - above the headline - is an animated choropleth map. This is a straightforward presentation of space...

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Surging gas prices

A reader finds this chart hard to parse: The chart shows the trend in gas prices in New York in the past two years. This is a case in which the simple line chart works very well. I added annotations as the reasons behind the decline and rise in prices are reasonably clear.  One should be careful when formatting dates. The legend of the original chart looks like this: In...

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Ridings, polls, elections, O Canada

Stephen Taylor reached out to me about his work to visualize Canadian elections data. I took a look. I appreciate the labor of love behind this project. He led with a streamgraph, which presents a quick overview of relative party strengths over time. I am no Canadian election expert, and I did a bare minimum of research in writing this blog. From this chart, I learn that: the Canadians have...

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Visually displaying multipliers

As I'm preparing a blog about another real-world study of Covid-19 vaccines, I came across the following chart (the chart title is mine). As background, this is the trend in Covid-19 cases in the U.K. in the last couple of months, courtesy of OurWorldinData.org. The React-1 Study sends swab kits to randomly selected people in England in order to assess the prevalence of Covid-19. Every month, there is a new...

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Simple charts are the hardest to do right

The CDC website has a variety of data graphics about many topics, one of which is U.S. vaccinations. I was looking for information about Covid-19 data broken down by age groups, and that's when I landed on these charts (link). The left panel shows people with at least one dose, and the right panel shows those who are "fully vaccinated." This simple chart takes an unreasonable amount of time to...

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Metaphors, maps, and communicating data

There are some data visualization that are obviously bad. But what makes them bad? Here is an example of such an effort: This visualization of carbon emissions is not successful. There is precious little that a reader can learn from this chart without expensing a lot of effort. It's relatively easy to identify the largest emitters of carbon but since the data are not expressed per-capita, the chart mainly informs...

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Come si dice donut in italiano

One of my Italian readers sent me the following "horror chart". (Last I checked, it's not Halloween.) I mean, people are selling these rainbow sunglasses. The dataset behind the chart is the market share of steel production by country in 1992 and in 2014. The presumed story is how steel production has shifted from country to country over those 22 years. Before anything else, readers must decipher the colors. This...

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Finding the hidden information behind nice-looking charts

This chart from Business Insider caught my attention recently. (link) There are various things they did which I like. The use of color to draw a distinction between the top 3 lines and the line at the bottom - which tells the story that the bottom 50% has been left far behind. Lines being labelled directly is another nice touch. I usually like legends that sit atop the chart; in...

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And you thought that pie chart was bad…

Vying for some of the worst charts of the year, Adobe came up with a few gems in its Digital Trends Survey. This was a tip from Nolan H. on Twitter. There are many charts that should be featured; I'll focus on this one. This is one of those survey questions that allow each respondent to select multiple responses so that adding up the percentages exceeds 100%. The survey asks...

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